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Samarth Mohan – a rising star in MIT Cricket Club

Samarth Mohan ’16, recalls playing “gully cricket” — a popular form of ad hoc cricket played in streets — growing up in India. In the narrow streets of New Delhi, Samarth managed to learn the basics of cricket as a sport but was never a part of an organized club team. He could have hardly imagined then that one day, he would go on to score a century for the MIT Cricket Club.

Cricket, while quite popular in many parts of the world, is rarely sighted being played in the U.S. The sport is relatively new for the American populace and has only a modest following in the Western Hemisphere, with the exception of the Caribbean islands. After Samarth moved from New Delhi to McLean, Virginia at the age of 13, “gully cricket” from his past stood as his only link to cricket. That is until one fine fall evening in 2014, when he saw some students playing on Jack Barry’s field and decided to play with them. That was Samarth’s first introduction to the group of cricket enthusiasts at MIT who would go on to form a more organized club sport. It was the first time Samarth played competitive cricket with a proper cricket ball, bat and protective gear. Samarth recalls being nervous playing with the hard leather ball in the beginning, but with regular practice he got comfortable and honed the skills that saw their beginning in the streets of New Delhi. He could hardly contain his exuberance when he earned a chance at representing MIT to compete against other local schools, including the likes of Harvard, Dartmouth and Northeastern and Boston University.

Samarth’s best performance came in a crucial league game on the home ground of a tough opponent in the form of the University of Massachusetts Lowell, where he scored his first ever century in a competitive game. A century — a score of 100 runs by a batsman in a single game — is a rare feat in the T20 format. Only twice in the four years before Samarth’s performance was the feat achieved by a member of MIT’s Cricket Club. Samarth remembers breaking two bats throughout his belligerent innings that deflated UMass Lowell’s confidence and ensured that MIT finished top of the table to win the American College Cricket Home and Away League for the second year in a row. Through the flawless batting performance, one memory in particular stands out for Samarth when he was batting on 96 with only one delivery remaining in the innings. Usman Ayyaz ’17, then the captain of the team, walked up to Samarth and informed him that he was nearing his century and that he should go for a big hit. The final delivery was a full-toss that Samarth smashed through the covers for a boundary completing his century just as the innings closed. An insane sense of exhilaration took over him and the next thing he remembers is being inundated with jubilant hugs and high-fives by his teammates. Coming into the team with no experience of playing cricket with the leather ball, Samarth had achieved an amazing feat.

“To a newcomer, I would say that regardless of your experience, you will feel welcomed to the team. Honestly, I was one of the least skilled players when I joined the club. The leather ball was hard to play, but I always felt encouraged and guided by the more experienced members of the club. I think the cricket club has been an integral part of my life at MIT,” said a modest Samarth when asked about his message to a new member of the club.

As MIT’s Cricket Club gears up for a new season this fall, several new members have joined and Samarth, now from the vantage point of a seasoned member, looks forward to enhancing his experience with the club.